Simple Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

This time of year, apple trees are heavy laden with the beautiful fruits of the summer’s growing. One of the simplest, quickest, and desired deserts around here is apple crisp.

Use your own judgement on how many apples to use. When it comes to availability of a varied sizes of suitable tart cooking apples, a good rule of thumb is to fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the 8×8 pan with apples.Apples


  • 6-8 sliced medium sized cooking apples(Approximately 4-5 cups)
  • 3/4c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1/2c old fashioned oats
  • 1/3c butter(softened)
  • 3/4tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4tsp nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Slice up the apples however you want. If you have an apple corer that also slices the apples for you, this process is even faster.Apple corer
  3. Grease an 8×8 pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  4. Spread apples in the pan. Filling it up to 2/3 full.
  5. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  6. Sprinkle topping over the apples evenly.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Apple crisp is best served warm with a dollop of ice cream but you can do it any way you wish. It’s your apple crisp after all.

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Pineapple Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Zucchini Cake

In our eternal search for finding enough recipes to keep from throwing out a single zucchini from our garden due to spoilage, we came up with this nice cake because of the overwhelmingly positive response to our Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread recipe. It again uses fruit to bring add favor and character to the mundane, but nutritionally abundant, zucchini.


  • 1c white flour
  • 1/2c whole wheat wlour
  • 1 1/4c sugar
  • 2tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8tsp ginger
  • 3Tbsp oil
  • 2 eggs(lightly beaten)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2c grated zucchini
  • 2 1/2c drained crushed pineapple(or a 20oz can)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients(flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger) and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, eggs, vanilla, zucchini and pineapple. Mix well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour contents of bowl into a greased 9×13 cake pan.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is a nicely medium brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


We used some of the reserved pineapple juice from crushing to put in the frosting. It continues the flavor throughout the frosting that you get from the cake. If there’s no juice left(because someone over zealously drank it) then substitute milk.

  • 2Tbsp softened butter
  • 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 2c powdered sugar
  • about 1Tbsp pineapple juice(be careful not to overdue it or your frosting will be runny)

Simply mix the ingredients together until even texture and it has a thickness you are comfortable with. Then spread on your COMPLETELY COOLED cake. It should be completely cooled or your frosting will become a runny mess. You may also like to sprinkle crushed nuts or your choice over the top.

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Quick Dill Pickle Spears or Slices


A healthy cucumber plant is a prolific producer. You know you can’t eat all of them, right? That means you need to do one of two things. Either sneak over to your neighbors and leave bags of cukes on their porch and run away or pickle them. Sure, there are breeds of cucumbers specifically for pickling, but all cucumbers can be preserved in jars. This just happens to be our down and dirty way of making a quick two quarts of dill pickles. Feel free to scale this recipe as you need for larger quantities.


  • 3# Cucumbers
  • 6 cloves of garlic(minced)
  • 4 tsp dill ceed
  • 1 red pepper flakes
  • 2c cider vinegar
  • 2c water
  • 3 Tbsp pickling salt


  1. Start by making sure you have two cleaned and sanitized quart jars.
  2. Wash, dry, and cut cucumbers into spears or slices.
  3. Add 1/2 of the garlic, dill, and pepper flakes into each jar.
  4. Pack cucumbers into jar.(With spears you might want to tip jar and switch between thick and thin ended spears at the bottom of jar)
  5. In a pot mix together the vinegar, water, and salt. This is your brine.
  6. Bring your brine to a boil and pour into jars up to 1/2 inch from the top.
  7. Remove excess bubbles by gentle tapping the jar on the counter.
  8. Place lid and band onto the jar and boil in a canner for 10 minutes.

As the jar cools it will seal. If not, something when wrong. You don’t have to have a pressure canner for this, just a deep stock pot that will allow water to come up over the lid is necessary.


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Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

Lemon Zucchini Bread

A favorite of late summer in our house is this lemony treat. It’s lighter and fluffier than the traditional zucchini breads we usually bake and the lemon gives it a citrus freshness complimented by the sweetness that pervades the bread and glazing. This is a perfect snack bread to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a friendly conversation.


  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs(beaten)
  • 1/2c oil
  • 1 1/3c sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2c buttermilk
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1c grated zucchini


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder) and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl put your eggs, oil, and sugar together. Mix well.
  4. Add the lemon juice, buttermilk, and lemon zest to the liquid  blow and blend evenly.
  5. Combine the wet and dry together and mix well.
  6. Add the zucchini to the mixture, folding until it’s thoroughly mixed.
  7. Split the batter between the two plans evenly and back for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean at the center.

The Glaze:

The glaze is a simple powdered sugar glazing with lemon added.

  • 1c powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp milk

Mix the ingredients and drizzle over your COOLED lemon zucchini bread. You may want to use the back side of a rubber scraper or spoon to spread the glaze more evenly over the top of the bread.

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Gardening Tip: Save Some Peas for Later


As gardeners, we are strong believers in the need to leave a portion of the crop in the garden so it can go to seed for next year. GASP! In a world of GMO contracts for seed the home gardener has no problem harvesting seeds from their organic and heirloom variety veggies without the seed police knocking on your door.[locks door]

Snap peas and sugar snap peas have a pretty good life arc to follow if you plan to keep for next year. You can harvest them throughout the middle summer here in the north(Minnesota) and, come the dog days of August, the pea pods change in thickness and color to let you know they are ready for seed harvesting.


Ripe and ready snap peas have a good even color to them. Sugar snap peas tend to be rounder but as the season rolls on you’ll find they might been smaller and thinner as the plant reaches the end of it’s life cycle. They still taste good and have that juicy crispness to the pod when you bite into it.


Over ripe pea pods will develop a varied color scheme and get thinner as the moisture content of the pod dissipates. Some of them might still be edible but once you get to the brown little buggers at the bottom of the above picture, they are definitely ready for seed harvesting.

In the two dimensional world of your video screen it is hard to compare the two images so we also took a picture of the progression from ripe, to over-ripe, to leathery seed pouch.


The one on the left has smaller peas and a thick pod surrounding it to hold it’s sweet juicy goodness. The middle one, while still edible, has lost a lot of moisture in the pod itself and the peas are bigger. The one on the right is an ideal target for next years seeds.

Despite the fact that a lot of the moisture is gone by the time you harvest the old ones, you will find that they need extra time to dry before you seal them up in a dry bag for next year. We just leave them on the counter on a paper towel for a couple weeks but you can figure out what works for you.

As much as we love to eat fresh sugar snap peas out of the garden, keeping a bunch around for next year will only “sweeten” your investment of time and energy even more.

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Chickens vs Predators? Chickens Always Lose


We’ve raised chickens for eggs for 13 years now and have seen more than our fair share of death in the coop. Sometimes they go quietly and quickly and sometimes you can look at a bird and know they will be gone in three days based on their symptoms. It’s just how nature works.

Last night we got a call from a friend, who was watching our chickens while we attended a family reunion, because he suspected some fowl play had happened to our two free range yard birds. Normally, these birds ,Elvis and Freckle, ran up to humans in the hope of getting fed so when they did not come racing across the yard he knew that was a red flag. When he saw a few white feathers on the ground along the back side of the chicken shed he decided it was time to call me.

Sure enough, after returning a little bit ago, I tracked a trail of trodden tall grass to a set of pine along our property line only to find the remains of both of them. The only thing to do now is make sure whatever decided to take these two doesn’t decided to take the rest of the birds or, worse yet, they three cats we have living with us that have full access to the outside.

For the record, Elvis was a rare commodity. He was a rooster that never developed any alpha tendencies and always maintained a healthy fear of me. He won a 1st place blue ribbon at the 2012 Benton County Fair. Freckle, on the other hand, was a wily feral hatched bird that lived free from beginning to end, never having actual physical contact with humans. They were a twosome flock that stayed together through several seasons and they went down together. That’s where their story ends.

Elvis gets his Blue RibbonNote: That is the one and only time Elvis was ever in a cage. He didn’t like it AT ALL.

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